First American Art Magazine No. 21, Winter 2018/19 - Page 51

LINDA AGUILAR the basket comes out the way it wants to come out. One of the biggest hurdles is finding the right materials for my baskets. Wax thread comes in too few colors or shades. I usually work in natural horsehair but sometimes use dyed horsehair. Then the waxed linen thread needs to match or contrast properly. I get amazed that some city people think there are brightly colored horses running around, like pink, yellow, blue, and purple horses running around! [Laughs.] There are not that many basket weavers out there. It takes a lot of time. Some weavers just make baskets for themselves or for their families. Native people have a lot of respect for the practice. I’d like to tell you a hat story. Do you remember the “basket hat” that was hanging above my work desk at SAR? I remember. We had a happy conversation outside the studio there about making a hat, and we were playing off creative thoughts from each other, and one or both of us said something about making a “top hat,” so I decided to make a top hat, but there was not enough time to make a big hat, so it ended up being three inches tall! I kept thinking, I will have to put my thinking cap on. After I gave a talk at SAR about my work, some people came to the studio and looked at the scene—carved sheep on the table and suspended quilt pieces and tiny baskets floating around that “thinking hat.” That The Thinking Hat was floating above my chair and desk there at SAR. All my supplies were on the table, along with shells and sequins and cut-up credit cards and about a half-dozen small, carved, Navajo folk art sheep. Some of the carved sheep were positioned looking at the hat floating above my head. I have used those same shells, sequins, carved sheep, cut-up credit cards and shiny things in several shows since then. Years later a couple came to my house from Germany. The couple collects things from all different states and countries. I brought out the hat. They wanted to figure out the hat. “How do we display it?” they asked. “All you have to do is put a nail on the wall and hang it there,” I told them. I asked them if they wanted it wrapped and they said no. They didn’t want it wrapped and the collector’s wife put the hat in her purse and off they went. I am still thinking about making a top hat. Do you think the field of Native art and/or basket weaving has changed over the past 25 years? Where do you think it is heading? There is a tension in the art market. People want to see the [established, customary] work. They don’t want vari- ations. If you are getting into [an art] show, the judges have their influence. They want strictly traditional. WINTER 2018/19 | 49